In the Spotlight - Alan Homer


Name: Alan Homer
Role: Mechanical Services Manager
1st ALE Season: 2010
Nationality: UK

Al may be the most elusive member of the ALE team and it took a bit of bribery to trick him into giving us an ‘interview’. Al works behind the scenes, overseeing ALE’s mechanical services department and without him, Union Glacier Camp wouldn’t run. So meet the man behind the machines – and be warned – the truth about Al is hidden amongst a heavy dose of dry British humor.

What brought you to Antarctica the first time?

In 2007 I started working for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) as a chef*. I ended up spending over 30 months at Rothera and the isolation never bothered me.

*Chef translates to mechanic in Alan speak 
How did you come to work for ALE?
While working for BAS in 2009, we stopped at ALE’s Patriot Hills Camp to refuel. The pilot saw one cloud in the sky and refused to take off so we ended up getting stuck there for 4 days over Christmas. I met some of the ALE mechanics during my stay and they offered me a job when I got back to the UK.
What’s your least favorite machine to repair?
Definitely the snowcats and the yellow Ford euro cargo truck.
What’s the most difficult part of being a mechanic in Antarctica?
First, keeping your tea warm. Second, you can’t just go to the local auto parts store and get any piece you might need. You have to make it work with what you’ve got.
What’s the oddest repair job you’ve had to find a fix for?
Extending the length of the urine spout on a Shewee.
What’s your favorite meal the Union Glacier chefs make?
Definitely that fish thing Malin makes with peas and bacon. I think it’s a traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner dish.
What items are you sure to pack for your 3 months in Antarctica?
Macallan single malt whisky and country music on my tablet.
If you had to call one place home where would it be?
Antarctica. I spend more time each year living at Union Glacier than any other single location.
What do you drive when you’re not on the ice?
I have a Subaru WRX parked in a garage somewhere in the UK but it hasn’t been on the road since 2010.
Where would you choose to live if you could live anywhere?
I still have way too many places left to visit before I make that decision. But of the places I’ve seen so far, New Zealand, France, or Copenhagen.
How do you spend your off-season?
This year I bought a new sea kayak for spear fishing, visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia, drove a camper van from the western coast of France to the southern coast, and worked in Indonesia for Doctors of the World building medical incinerators.
Wow, how was that?
How was welding in Indonesia? Hot!

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